Updates: Currently slacking off

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Brexit.

Just a short post of my thoughts right now.
Referendum over and both sides are still EQUALLY insufferable.
I'm a political guy. I like policy, I like debate, I like *argument*
What I don't like is the vicious vitriol and bigotry of both damn sides.

We were choosing which kind of turd to have in our sandwich, not between superman and superhitler.

The fact that one of the evils was picked over the other doesn't make half of the country racists.

The fact one side got 52% of the vote does not magically invalidate the opinion of the 48% (this is literally within a statistical margin of error, it's not a landslide, it's not a mandate)
Nor the spoiled ballots or fence sitters. (turnout was very good, but still only 70%+)

We've taken a leap as a nation.
It could go badly.
It might not.

Staying in the EU is more safe, absolutely.
Safety may not always be an appropriate motive.

Lets just have some more humanity people.
The world hasn't ended, we've not magically shifted away from Europe geographically.
Even if you think another person was wrong, quit assuming malice!


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Free speech is a left wing, liberal AND conservative ideal. Anything else is a betrayal of those values.

How can this be so? How can a position fought over so constantly be something that politics across the spectrum agrees on?
I would suggest, rather easily.

Too often there are hypocrites that wish freedom for their own thoughts, belief and expression that do not extend those rights to others.
Too often people are willing to compromise rights they make no use of for comforts that do not need.
This is not a partisan behaviour, because awful (or ignorant) people will justify these positions with whatever rhetoric is preferred within their ideological bubble.
The Right will talk of patriotism, security, traditional values, protection of children and appeals to authority or tradition.
The Left will talk of safety, of compassion and progress. Lately they will talk about the protection of women and minorities (even above that of children)
You can not justify abandoning principle by invoking a motive. If you abandon your principles, you no longer hold those principles. Your motive does not matter.

We often hear of how the regressive left is stifling free expression and suppressing conservative thought so I won't detail that. It is easily found just about anywhere rationality is promoted.
I will however suggest that the right has not suddenly abandoned its history of similar behaviour. Fox News was FOUNDED on this kind of propagandist thinking and still prospers.

In discussions about how bad SJWs are you will find people unironically calling to limit, censor or ban left wing ideas as a whole or in part.
Most telling here is the notion that money equals speech. A brand new "conservative principle" that likely has historical Republicans (and other conservatives) spinning in their graves.
We have free speech campaigners that themselves engage in the rhetoric and practice of suppressing opposition when it comes to criticism of the modern system.

In short, it is my belief that repression of speech and rampant income inequality are simply two branches from the tree of despair our culture seems to have found shade beneath. Each branch, sprout twig and leaf declares itself the lesser evil, even as they all feed the same trunk.
We see speech restricted gleefully on behalf of "progressives" by private and government interests that broadly oppose left wing values.
Why would this be?
Because they are trading nothing of value to achieve an end they prefer. They make no concessions, the blame is placed with their "political opponents" and they prosper as any genuine political opposition is usurped by identity politics fauxgressivism.

I do not think their prosperity will last, just as I think regressives will keep haemorrhaging support. Both sides seem intent on attacking the public with various justification.
I would call to mind this quote;

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" - JFK

This goes for both sides.
The left continues to attack everyone for not being pure enough. Pure enough what? Well, with identity politics there is no metric. You must be what you are needed to be at this moment, or you fail. Once you fail, you can never be redeemed.
The right continues to suggest any deviation from their economic dogma is treason. That economic dogma is pretty much; do what donors want, lower taxes on the rich and cut public spending, except on military contracts. (that's always what is meant with military spending, the soldiers and veterans are never the focus)
Eventually something will give. I can only hope both sides get BTFO.

I surely hope that my brothers and sisters across party lines and political affiliation can come to recognise the problems as universal, rather than playing the game of "who is worse"
In that game I just point to the fact no right wingers are in prison for their beliefs and remind everyone that McCarthyism is alive and well in some (many) political circles. When "socialism" and "liberalism" can be discussed without vitriol in America, then the damage will have been undone. Until then, regressives are amateurs by comparison.

Do not let your disagreements cloud your judgement on issues.
When you agree on an issue, then agree to unite in that cause.
Only then can we accomplish anything.
Partisan posturing and dogmatic rhetoric serve no purpose but to undermine a cause. Just look at the Occupy movement.

I just wanted to end with another left wing message, another quote, this one from Teddy Roosevelt (you know, the Republican. Because they used to be the left wing in America, for the MANY Americans that are politically illiterate and wilfully ignorant)

"We heartily approve of the prosperity, no matter how great, of any man if it comes from his rendering service to the community." - Teddy Roosevelt

The political wings often differ in design and policy. Not intent.
Socialists and other left wingers want to ensure individual liberty, freedom and achievement by merit.
The same or similar values as those on the right and in the centre.
We just think those things can only be ensured by different methods than you prefer.
When it comes to free speech and expression, I would hope that is one method we can all agree upon.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Everyone hates me therefore I'm right!

Is an utterly retarded position I see more and more people adopting.
You are not a special snowflake.
Your beliefs, however unique, still fall loosely within a category that can be easily defined for political discussion.
If you do not understand this, it is not the fault of political philosophy. It is a fault of your personal ignorance.

First understand; There is no right and wrong.
Sensible people can and do disagree. We each have our own set of experiences, upbringing and education that informs our imperfect, incomplete perception of reality.

You can have a perfectly valid, justified and functional world view predicated broadly on left wing values or right wing values. There is a wealth of variety on both sides too.
You can even be centrist.
Centrist does not mean you disagree with both sides, so much as you cherry pick positions from both sides and are moderate. If you strongly disagree with both sides, you aren't a centrist, you're a cunt. And possibly a hipster.

Being PROUD that you are hated by everyone for public statements you make is not a sign of your independence.
It is a sign of a lack of convictions.
If people on both sides hate what you say, examine your arguments.
Ensure you are consistent.
Ensure that you are factual.
Do not use disagreement as proof of validity.

With that said, I should admit that I piss everyone off.
I'm a socialist that spends most his time arguing against the regressive left (and have done for YEARS before that term came around, I preferred my own "fauxgressives" :<)
The right hate me just for existing and not letting them get away with constant hypocrisy.
Too often I'm engaged in fights on the left that are gleefully join by right wing commenters that are every bit as guilty as those they criticise.

The thing is, I don't LIKE pissing anyone off.
I'm basically a fucking hippy.
I want everyone to get along, I think we all share more common ground than most appreciate and most of all, I think people that "like to piss both sides off" make everything worse.
This is literally the definition of a troll, and yet I hear it claimed as proof of some moral high ground, as if it is proof of being correct.
The last is even more galling.

I do not gauge the value of my ideas by the response they receive. Negative or positive, the ideas exist irrespective of opinions made about them.
If I am unable to defend my ideas, then I have bad arguments. I must either find better arguments or abandon the idea as untenable.
That is the path to being right.
Not simply declaring oneself the arbiter of truth. Not clinging to dogma.

Only by examining our beliefs and abandoning those we cant adequately defend do we ever arrive at truth.

Too often I find people excusing or justifying their opinions with the bad reactions they inspire.

If they are demonstrably incorrect, but are insulted in response, they simply cling more firmly to the self delusion. They focus on offence, rather than examining arguments.
I get it, the left are sometimes reactionary and blind to their own faults. Left wing advocacy can often include base manipulation of emotional responses. I'm a sucker for it, but I know it's happening.
The right tend to be insular and attack any deviation in thought (this has become endemic on the left VERY recently with regressives, who have apparently abandoned the lessons taken from the communist regimes as criticised by Orwell)

So yes. Both sides DO engage in ridiculous behaviour in response to being questioned or criticised.
It doesn't automatically invalidate what they're saying though.
Sometimes people can both be correct AND utter arseholes.

Totally possible.

I most often see this crap invoked by political centrists that have allied themselves with regressives in the media (who I firmly believe are also political centrists)

The "far left" and "far right" are blamed for the consequences of rhetoric and activism pushed most often by cliques of neoliberals for their own benefit.
They will claim to oppose the behaviour and cite the "extremists" as their opponents, but will generally not provide examples. Mostly because that would reveal massive hypocrisy, ignorance and most amusingly, that the culprits are their ideological peers. Not the "extremes"

I think the most clear example of this is with feminism.
Many feminists in the media and activism consider themselves moderate, centrist and reasonable.

They fail to display any of these qualities in detectable amounts.
They blame extremists for the bad name feminism has gained (both within feminism, and opponents of feminism)
Meanwhile, they engage in or excuse all of the worst behaviour, rhetoric and activism that is supposed be the fault of those extremists.

They then fall back on the classic argument of "I'm right because everyone hates me"

Now before a reader mistakes my contempt here with hate or intolerance; I routinely declare that there is nothing WRONG with any particular position. Spent the first part of this post saying as much.
Disagreements are not only inevitable, they're absolutely necessary.
More than that, people should be ALLOWED to be wrong.
The only thing that should matter is conduct.

If there is no abuse, no violence and no call to violence, we should tolerate it.
If there are shared values, those should be celebrated.
If there is (morally sound) compromise to be reached, it should be embraced.

Friday, 27 May 2016

WTF is Socialism. (a ramble)

That most controversial of subjects.... in the US.
Outside of the US and ex-Soviet nations (which at least is understandable) socialism is perfectly ordinary.
People still disagree, criticise and object. Some of it is ignorant, some of it is sensible, but at the VERY least there is not the knee jerk response of suggesting socialism is an extremist position.
It saddens me that a nation that calls itself the land of the free has essentially attempted an embargo on ideas for nearly 5 decades. A suppression of a valid political philosophy that has resulted in an alternative reliance on identity politics and the dominance of regressive, hypocritical and often nonsensical positions by "progressives"
I for one believe in political pluralism. All ideas MUST be represented, MUST be heard. Any other option is intellectually dishonest.
This means hearing from nationalists, isolationists, abolitionists, republicans, conservatives, libertarians. And yes, it also means hearing from liberals and socialists and even, shock horror, communists.
Only by shining a light on ideas can we demonstrate which are good and which are bad. Which work, and which are reliant on a monopoly to function.

But with all this said, what is socialism?
The answer is both very simple and ridiculously complicated.

Socialism arose with the Industrial Revolution.
As agrarian lifestyles were uprooted by modernisation and workers moved into cities to find work, employers were able to leverage a captive workforce. This is the irrefutable nature of capitalism and I do not know how modern conservatives cant admit as much as they desperately try to unshackle business and openly praise this market force.
Workers were mistreated, underpaid, overworked and yes even oppressed. They were paid precisely what the market allowed for, which was a wage depressed by desperation, population and lack of (but growing) demand.
And so socialists objected. They saw this degradation and could not justify it morally.
Many early socialists were committed Christians and driven by their faith, by the sure belief in the nobility of man, especially the working man.

People must always bear in mind historical context.
These socialists were not protesting against modern capitalism with its convenience, its service industry, its worker compensation.
They lived in a world without these things.
A world without an upper limit on work hours (Sunday was reserved for church, but otherwise work days were long with no holidays, even unpaid) the wages were low, subsistence. Some would even pay in vouchers only redeemable from the company store.
There was no welfare, no pension (or retirement), hazardous child labour, no health and safety. Unions were unheard of and collective bargaining ruthlessly suppressed.
The population also could not vote, in many nations men were subject to conscription and there was little legal protection for the general public.
It was a time before telecommunications (of any kind), no commercial cars, no aeroplanes. Even electrical lighting was a fanciful new invention and didn't see widespread use until the late 1800s.
Can you imagine this world?
If you cant, why are you judging the writing of men from this time by contemporary standards.
If you can the same question applies...

So, socialism was a response to that world. A world that no longer exists.
If we focus on Marx (the most famous socialist thinker) we see that he certainly acknowledged and admired the transformative potential of capitalism.
He was not, unfortunately, clairvoyant.
His conclusions were faulty, and some of his suggestions. His criticisms though remain valid to this day.
He however could not envision that those in power would ever compromise with those they govern. It was unimaginable from his perspective. History could suggest no alternative. Those in power would attempt to hold it, wield it and eventually be overthrown. A pattern repeating through time immemorial.
He could not have foreseen the success of socialism in moderating the emerging liberal elite, nor could he envision a state of universal suffrage.
And so, he assumed the only end to capitalist excess would be revolution.
If we have seen anything from the attempts at socialist revolution it is that they are disastrous.
Populists seize power, suppress "the proletariat" they claim to champion and become the humans they deposed (to allude to Orwell's Animal Farm)

The socialist response to this?
The democratic socialism we see today.
Tame and shackle the beast of capitalism to limit its power to exploit and damage the public, but allow it to serve the functions it serves so efficiently. A compromise that has seen success time and again when either extreme (state capitalism or deregulated capitalism) leads only to disaster.
But how can socialists justify abandoning their proposed solution?
Because the core tenet of socialism does not refer to ownership, does not allude to state authority.
It is limited to one principle, a core tenet that serves as the root of the movement.
The workers that produce the value should have a share in the fruit of their labour.
Hardly a dystopian concept, and one that really does have absolutely nothing to do with capitalism, despite protestations. It's not that it has no place in capitalism. The whole point, and this comes from the economists that BUILT the capitalism model, is that morality and direction needs to be asserted from OUTSIDE of the capitalist system. Morality isn't a market force. Capitalism is exclusively about ownership and wealth, not about work.
Anything which rewards a worker equitably for their efforts is conducive with socialism. Anything that exploits workers or suppresses their freedom is not. No matter what justification is used.
If you own and operate a small business, working hard and employ others in your community that you reward according to their contribution? You're practising socialism. The word doesn't matter, and it is not exclusive to socialism, but a rose by any other name is still as sweet.

Many have trouble with this because of widespread socialist opposition to "private property"
The problem being that definitions have become jargon and people talk past each other.
To a socialist, the acquisition of property without expending effort is just... bad. You didn't work for it, didn't build it and don't maintain it. You just own it. When this results in obscene wealth, it is a problem. This is what socialists are criticising. The proposal to end private property is a solution, but it's not universally shared.
The criticism of such hoarding of wealth is not unique to socialism either. Notable economists, liberals and capitalists recognised the flaw too. Smith talked of government being required to preserve property (to my great amusement, considering the amount of "hate the state" libertarians) and also of Christian values being needed to limit the influence of the profit motive over business. Locke considered the waste of resources to be deeply immoral, mostly in explaining the superiority of capitalist systems to reduce such waste through trade and currency, but he acknowledged the growth of wealth as a potential concern.

But with wealth distribution a factor in all sensible economic thinking I must admit, I have always been rather enamoured with a Marx quote many find very scary.
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"
Many see this as taking from the rich and giving to the lazy.
An intolerably uncharitable interpretation, devoid of context or understanding.
The proposal in this quote is that we will reach a point when resources are abundant and competition becomes counter productive (in many areas, this is already true, with competition manufactured through false scarcity)
At such a time (and even on principle at all times) people should be afforded the opportunity to contribute to the best of their abilities.
This is not a demand nor oppressive.
It is an ideal. People do not generally like feeling useless and with perfect freedom most enjoy finding ways to contribute.
In order to contribute their best, people must receive what they need. Needs are individual and vary based on circumstance but also on activity.
It is not against this quote to suggest that those contributing the most require more in return. To motivate them, to reward them or even just to ensure they remain capable.
It is a thing called pragmatism and many could do with adopting and assuming in rational thinkers.

Perhaps my interpretation is generous, but it is what I believe the intent to be.
Remember the core tenet.
A worker should be entitled to an equitable share of the value they produce.
That is not referring to the welfare recipient that requires help. It refers to those that contribute.
I find it ironic that those constantly talking about hard work defend so fiercely a form of modern aristocracy enabled by inheritance.
If the state provides in a time of need, you are an evil parasite and should work, because work is moral.
If your only virtue and the only work you have accomplished is being propelled out of the correct vagina, you are an upstanding citizen that EARNED that money with the sweat of your daddy's nutsack. Your "work" is managing your capital!
Hypocrisy. (hypocrisy which I don't share, as I don't oppose inheritance, only practices that preserve obscene wealth at the expense of workers)

But onwards my thoughts flee, until we rest on a common concern I have today.
We have arrived at a situation where the right wing will dismiss the existence of the moderate socialists of Europe. The socialists that have compromised on policy for generations, attempting but sometimes failing to stay true to the core tenets of their ideology.
They dismiss this sensible, popular political philosophy in order to render the conversation into rhetorical sparring. A dogmatic clusterfuck of half truths, obfuscation and outright lie.

Socialism (and the broader left wing, including liberalism to many) is lumped in with Stalin, Mao and even Hitler. The right suggests that the exclusive and only accurate definition for socialism is a game of Chinese whispers played over the course of more than 100 years. From Marx theories and conclusions, to Lenin's adaptation of Marxism, to Stalin's adaptation of Lenin. From his works describing social and economic class, to modern applications of his theories to areas increasingly insane and inappropriate.
None of the plurality of socialism reached through hundreds of years of argument, debate and compromise. The only socialism that exists is from failed states that demonstrably refused to apply socialist philosophy. Regimes that justified the actions as the means to an end that never arrived, as many in power justify their abuses with a convenient ideology.

Marx is held accountable for the actions and beliefs of men that came to power decades after his death, in the irony of ironies from a political dogma that accuses others of collectivist guilt by association.
Marx becomes the only valid socialist, and to blame for all the world's ills. Despite being a poor academic, journalist and critic of capitalism that they constantly accuse of incompetence. Despite being a toddler when the socialist movement was also in its infancy. Despite not being the only socialist philosopher of his time period, let alone over the course of the ideology, and despite his many critics from WITHIN socialism.
Yup, this one man is responsible for everything done in his name and with his works, and making that accusation is nothing like the insanity from fundamentalists and regressives.

Hell, in the case of Hitler being socialist the insinuation is even an outright lie. To believe otherwise is to suggest that North Korea really is a democratic republic. It said it was, right?

I write this in full knowledge few will read it. Fewer still with an open mind.
I write it understanding that people prefer to live in ignorance, comforted by an echo chamber. Politically illiterate, wilfully ignorant and convinced of their own moral high ground.
Perhaps I'll revisit this piece to rewrite it, as the subject is important and complicated enough that I have written thousands of words on the subject in comments all over the internet, for years.
It is a worthy subject that I cant hope to do justice with one rant made during a sleepless night.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

0% unemployment. Utopia, dystopia or just common sense?

FDR once talked about the concept of full employment.
It is my firm belief that he isn't just correct, but such a thing is the ideal and the pragmatic solution.

There exists more than enough work for all people. With population growth simply creating greater demand, I do not foresee stagnation. Even if we discount all of the bullshit makework employees are forced to do to justify their jobs, essential services alone over burden just a few.

It has become something of established wisdom that the capitalist struggle is somehow mandatory, that this burden on the few to provide for the many is inevitable and so rewards greater wealth as a balance.
In reality?
It is simply a system that works fairly well and is an adequate improvement on the systems of privilege and service that came before.

Just for a second, imagine a world where everyone worked, but people had to commit less time to work.
Where every employer was "over staffed" and so their employees could choose when to work.
If people can think beyond "more work = more money = better life" it's fairly easy.
We don't need to discard the idea that more work should generate more income, but rather that a base income is afforded to all for their participation in society.
A 30 hour work week, 20 hour, 10 hour. There are 7+ billion of us, we do not need to fill most of our lives with work to generate the wealth needed to provide for all.

We know that there is MORE than enough food to feed everyone in the world. So much is wasted that this is just indisputable.
We know that there is MORE than enough shelter to house everyone. How many vacant lots and abandoned buildings are you aware of? John Locke once suggested that the system of capital worked because it reduced waste. People could trade what they could not use to gain value while providing another with something of value that would otherwise be worthless, spoiled.
In his view waste was immoral.
To me, the hoarding of unused property is just as big a waste and every bit as immoral.
If private owners were compelled to use their property or lose it, there would be far more affordable housing. (this isn't an unusual responsibility to include in ownership of assets. If intellectual property is not used & defended it is lost, for instance)

With the two absolute necessities accounted for this leaves fuelling our free time.
Leisure industries generate significant wealth.
From tourism to television, from sports to gaming, entertainment is absolutely a viable area for mass employment.
We can see a system for this already widely used and enjoyed: youtube.
Free, or cheap, entertainment is being made on mass by people that love to make it, that are (sometimes) able to live on the proceeds.
Imagine if everyone had the freedom to put their efforts into content creation, social interaction or public service (such as participation in the democratic process or political discourse)

If we can grant that food and shelter are manageable to make available to all, that simply leaves luxuries.
I do not see why a luxury market wouldn't thrive in a world with few work hours.
How could it not?

Sadly, this is inconceivable in the current world, but I think it is certainly within the bounds of reason to suggest it is possible, to suggest it is preferable, to suggest, perhaps, that it is superior.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Some thoughts on Libertarianism; schizophrenia for the embarassed conservative.

My major problem with libertarians (right wing, "fiscal conservatives") is the thinking that equality can be achieved by removing constraints. That somehow just letting everyone do as they please has the net result of greater liberty.
"it's the difference between equality of outcome and of opportunity!" I hear.
No. It's not.
This is conflating two VERY DIFFERENT conversations in order to avoid addressing the argument. Understandable, given the domination of the regressive left on the "equality issue," but declaring that everyone has all available opportunities by virtue of living within the same system is simply dishonest.

The idea that only personal liberty can ensure or enshrine equality (any definition of it, call it "fairness" if you like) is asinine. We ALL place limitations on individual freedom, the difference is only where the line is drawn.
This to me "bootstraps" thinking is the suggestion that "Darwinism" is a GREAT social strategy.
Survival of the fittest, right?
People will find their level, and to the winner goes the spoils.

Just... no!
Nature is fucking HORRIFYING.
Natural selection is just what happens, it's not a metric for moral and ethical living. It is CERTAINLY not what we should aim for as a society.
The superpower of our species, the things that has let us dominate a planet filled with animals that can individually out compete us, is cooperation. We rose above the limitations of "nature"
The sacrifice we make is to sign on to this unwritten social contract. We give up some of our personal freedom in order to benefit from the collective. I don't murder you and take your things, you don't murder me and take my things and now there are two of us to work together.

If somebody only has the "freedom" to do a thing that they have no conceivable method of ACTUALLY achieving, then they do not have that freedom.
Pretending they do is so faulty as to be utterly retarded.
There are no laws against you jumping to the moon, but you can not DO it. Such a freedom is utterly irrelevant.

With this said, affirmative action or government programs to try to ensure equality of opportunity MAY NOT be the best solution.
They certainly are not in all instances.

The pretence that there would be anything resembling equality without ANY intervention is delusional to the point of insanity. Might makes right. We can either choose to make that "might" accountable to the greater community, or make the community accountable to a mighty individual.
Discarding a system of accountability because it is not perfect and subject to corruption is not a solution.
This thinking stems from the mistaken belief that capitalism is equipped with a morality, that it can self govern and self correct.
That was NEVER an argument made by the original economists, and it is an issue that is run from in terror by economic conservatives who rush instead to blame all ills on "the state."

In order to ensure the greatest liberty to the most people you can not simply declare that everyone has access to the same opportunities because there are no laws AGAINST them taking the opportunities.
That is a silly statement, but it is one taken without thought by many conservatives.

To me, this "negative liberty" mindset is just a demand for the authority of wealth.
If you're rich, do as you please; if you're poor, do as you're told.
It *literally* does work like that, historically and wherever there is no social accountability.

Rich people are free to spend their resources as they please, poor people are NOT allowed to spend their resources. If they spend resources on things their employers do not agree with, the Pinkerton's may come along to break some skulls.
Poor people used their resources, ie: their time and bodies, to lobby for things they wanted.
According to the "individual liberty" crowd this is evil statism, apparently.
I've yet to hear a libertarian that supports Unions, but I've also yet to hear a libertarian suggest that wealth should be restricted in its uses, even when it comes to lobbying.
A clear double standard that places wealth above other resources. You can spend wealth to do whatever you want, but if you DARE use your time, effort or voice in an attempt to "purchase" something you desire... well. That's evil! But only when poor people do it.

Speaking of wealth as a tool for political influence;
It is ALWAYS the state at fault, never the "capitalist" bribing them.
Crony capitalism is apparently socialism these days, because who gives a fuck about what words mean? Socialism just means government wasting money, right? If it's giving that money to private institutions against the very nature and definition of socialism? Doesn't matter, still socialism!

I mean, libertarians can perfectly understand the flaws inherent in communist thinking.
Perhaps they generalise too much given that humans practice "communism" on the small scale almost universally, but as a political philosophy I tend to agree with "conservative" criticism.
The idea that we're all unique individuals that can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps is every bit as flawed and ignorant of human nature though. Communism may be too idealistic as a societal practice, but to dismiss it as evil is just... dishonest. Evil is done in the NAME of the ideology. A lesson we should all learn from and apply broadly to all ideology.

When will libertarians examine their own principles in the same light? They identify communism as too idealistic, utopian and unreasonable but rarely do I see any self awareness when identical ideas about "volunteerism" are proposed.
Lets just deregulate, right?
Humans will ALWAYS do the responsible thing! And if they don't, somehow it will all self correct because that's a reasonable argument! The markets will fix it!

The double standards and inconsistencies gall me constantly.
If a person receives help from the government it is evil. It oppresses everyone because tax is theft, people should EARN their own damn money! Getting money you don't earn (even if it's so you can eat) is immoral, it makes you lazy and is actually unfair because it traps people in poverty!
If a person receives help from their parents it is TOTALLY fair! It's an even playing field because everyone has parents! They EARNED that inheritance, and the golden standard; "it was already taxed once!"
Can nobody else see the hypocrisy?

I personally choose a more nuanced approach.
I don't think the regressives are correct in attacking the wealthy because of "privilege" (though I share a lot of the fire, as a socialist) and I don't think "fiscal conservatives" are correct in their contempt for the poor, nor their idea that "charity does it better"
If charity "did it better" then Africa would not have faced starvation in a generation (it has had billions in charitable aid) and we wouldn't constantly hear of mismanagement, corruption and incompetence.

My take? The government has an OBLIGATION to provide some services to its citizens. This is none negotiable.
Universal education WORKS.
Without it you would not be sitting in a modern western nation.
You'd be sitting in a slum.
What, you don't oppose universal ("free") education? Well, then you're a communist!
What, it's an exception? Then why must we talk in absolutes all the damn time!
If libertarians make SOME exceptions for state run utilities (police, military, emergency services, education, public service) then why pretend these things are INHERENTLY evil?
I never seem to get an answer to that. Just excuses as to why it doesn't count and having a different line drawn as to what services the government should provide suddenly turns you from a free thinking libertarian into a statist monster akin to Stalin, Mao and Hitler.
I'm sorry, I think a public option for healthcare works. I'm sad that makes me into Satan-Hitler.

And if you seriously do not agree with government as a concept?
Move to Somalia. Stop making excuses. Go to somewhere without a state to interfere with your life, for better or worse. Stop being a parasite. If you enjoy the benefits of a civil society so much, quit trying to destroy it or demonise those that don't share your ideology.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Racism: the uniquely American problem

I find the subject of racism very difficult to discuss within an American context.
In the UK things can get heated, misconceptions can be made and misunderstanding can drive mutual hate. Even so it can still be discussed sensibly between most individuals. I've shared my opinions openly and candidly with people from all over Europe from varying backgrounds.
I once discussed this most sensitive of subjects with two Caribbean matriarchs when we were stuck in a weeks long course. (awesome ladies, I think even I'd have put on weight if I worked with them regularly, all the sweets I got offered :P)
The only time I'm called a racist is online by "activist" types, though I genuinely think most racists aren't evil and can be reformed. (a controversial opinion, it seems)

America seems an entirely different story.
They spend money with slave owners on.
They are protected by a constitution which LITERALLY described black slaves as less than a full human, written by slave owners, in a nation built on slavery.
They even learn about how awesome those slave owners were in school and celebrate these men regularly.

This is why when I hear "confederates were evil racists" from Americans it is almost comical.
It's an easy argument.
"People in the past did shitty stuff based on false morality"
History just isn't that cut and dry.

The example I prefer to use is General Lee.
He was widely celebrated during and after the civil war and publicly denounced racism, racist crimes and encouraged the inclusion of Black Americans in public life. I'd say that qualifies him as a moral man... of his time. Imperfect, subject to the whims, laws and attitudes of his culture and ruled by a moral system we find misguided if not outright evil.
Yet in the modern world he's often tarnished by the outright hateful racism shown by Jubal Early and some other confederates.

Racism in the "north" is likewise lessened or dismissed. Whitewashed from history in favour of this self congratulatory "mission accomplished" posturing even by the best of Americans.
People need to put things into historical context.
Not all slave owners were evil people, many sincerely believes they were custodians of a "lesser race."
It's daft, misguided and racist, but not hateful.
I'm with the esteemed Morgan Freeman when he suggests racism won't get better until we stop talking about race so much. When "the sins of the father" are taken off the table maybe we can achieve something constructive.

To make a point with a tangent; my nation (England) is directly responsible for the end of the historical slave trade.
Without the embargoes on Africa carried out by the royal navy, without the blood and treasure of the Empire spilled on the principle that all men should be free, slavery would still be as ubiquitous now as it was then. (though slavery does remain a global problem, it is now in the shadows, for better or worse as some choose to turn a blind eye)

You will not hear this invoked to lend moral authority to the British though.
Instead we are taught our history warts and all.
We learn the positives with the negatives, we learn NUANCE.

We ended the global slave trade, but it was not done for altruism alone.
The document used to justify employing the Royal Navy this way was written by men desperate to preserve the rights of the privileged from the excesses of the King. It entered the British Zeitgeist as a personal ideal.
All men are free.
That individualism propelled us far as a nation and as a culture.

Another reason was political expedience. Our rival nations were profiting greatly from the slave trade.
By placing an embargo on Africa we were undermining the economic competition.

I'm sure there was also a great deal of arrogance and colonial thinking involved too. The Brits (the aristocrats at least) of the time saw themselves as superior. It was their responsibility to interfere and better other people.

So, any attempt to cast the British role in ending the transatlantic slave trade as romantic would be a lie based on a grain of truth,
It is certainly something to be proud of, but only a fool with delude himself with a beautiful untruth.

This ability seems sadly lacking from American education, even amongst scholars.
I think this is part of what fuels the identity politics of the nation, which is everybody's business because it seems to be a major export.
America's racism is unique to America, but it doesn't seem to be staying that way.